ATLANTA (CBS) – As the weather warms up and New Englanders prepare to enjoy the outdoors, the Centers for Disease Control is warning that illnesses from mosquito, tick and flea bites are on the rise.
The report released by the CDC on Tuesday said there were 96,075 disease cases from the three in 2016. That’s more than triple the number of cases in 2004.
“Zika, West Nile, Lyme, and chikungunya—a growing list of diseases caused by the bite of an infected mosquito, tick, or flea—have confronted the U.S. in recent years, making a lot of people sick,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a statement. “And we don’t know what will threaten Americans next.”
The CDC said there are likely several reasons behind the uptick. The populations of mosquitoes and ticks are increasing and they are spreading into new areas. People travel overseas more and can bring back infections like Zika. And the agency says there are newly discovered germs being spread by mosquito and tick bites.
“The data show that we’re seeing a steady increase and spread of tickborne diseases, and an accelerating trend of mosquito-borne diseases introduced from other parts of the world,” CDC expert Dr. Lyle Petersen said in a statement.
Alarmingly, the CDC says the United States is not fully prepared to deal with this increase in disease. The report urges state and local agencies to step up efforts to test and track mosquito and tick infections, and do more to educate the public.
What should the average American do? The CDC recommends using an EPA-approved insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants and controlling ticks and fleas on pets.
The report also notes that Lyme disease is among the most common infections spread by ticks. The most prevalent mosquito viruses are West Nile, dengue and Zika.